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How did you choose your breed?

Discussion in 'Breeds & Breeding - Cattle' started by Mrs1885, Dec 26, 2018.

  1. Dec 28, 2018
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master

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    I am not a dairy person but the dairy cattle my neighbor has does fine on grass alone. Jersey. He lets them raise their calves and milks them for himself and extended family. He's waay too cheap to buy feed except a few cubes in winter.
     
  2. Dec 28, 2018
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Herd Master

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    Pasture quality and quantity play into this dilemma. Plus dairy will not "look" as rounded as beef.
     
  3. Dec 28, 2018
    farmerjan

    farmerjan True BYH Addict

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    I have several "nurse cows". Some Jerseys, a guernsey cross, a couple of hol/jer crosses. Plus have 3 jer/ang crosses that I breed back angus. The jer/ang crosses will make very acceptable cows for the dual purpose of milk for you and to raise the calf. Some will be built more like the angus, some more like the dairy. There-in lies the key. If they tend more to the angus, they will do better on just pasture. If they tend more towards the dairy(jersey) build, they may have a hard time holding their weight in the early part of their lactation.
    It all depends on how much you want to get back out of the cow. If you are wanting to raise multiple calves on the cow, she will need to have extra feed or she will milk the fat off her back literally. That is what dairy cattle do. They go into a "negative energy balance" when they first come fresh. Leaning towards Ketosis, which allows the body to utilize the fat. As their production slows down, they will start to regain that lost weight and fat and add pounds. Nature at work. If you want a cow to make enough milk for you and her calf, most will do fine on pasture as long as it is good grass. It may mean she will not breed back as fast as her body will know she cannot sustain a pregnancy if her immediate nutritional needs are not being met. So she won't settle even if she does come in heat. Often their heats are delayed until her body gets back into balance. Another thing, dairy animals have been bred for years to rely on the addition of "feed" in order to produce MORE MILK. So it goes without saying that they will be "harder keepers".
    Grass genetics are great and finding animals that are "designed" to live off pasture is ideal for the small homesteader type farm.
    Realize that a beef cow normally has a single calf and that calf will utilize all of the cows production, while maintaining her condition and weight, on grass. When you start asking a dairy animal to produce more milk, she will need more inputs.
    And alot of people who have dairy animals, that only utilize pasture and hay, are not going to push that animal to the limits of her capabilities that her genetics may allow. Nothing wrong with that if that works for you.
     
    Mini Horses and canesisters like this.
  4. Dec 28, 2018
    Mike CHS

    Mike CHS Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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  5. Jan 9, 2019
    Mrs1885

    Mrs1885 Ridin' The Range

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    Thank you everyone. I'm still undecided on whether cattle will be added. To answer a couple questions:

    We were looking more toward a beef that can do well on pasture with little to no extra feed

    Plan on selling off the calves once they are weaned and we are sure they are doing well

    Beef cattle here is a huge industry and we have met a lot of people here interested in Scottish Highland. Haven't seen breeders in the area so thought it would be the directionto go

    A beef dairy multi purpose is also appealing to me. The area we are in is a huge off grid / homestead area because the very small very rural counties really just kind of let you do what you want. So I think a multi purpose would be appealing to many.

    My biggest concerns would be choosing the right breed, making sure we have more than enough land and really our total inexperience with cattle. Lots to think about. :)
     
  6. Jan 10, 2019
    canesisters

    canesisters Overrun with beasties

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    If you are interested in more info that is specifically geared to raising and caring for a 'homestead' dairy cow I'd recommend a book called Keeping A Family Cow. There is also a forum by the same name where most of the discussion is geared to folks keeping 1-3 cows - mostly dairy.
     
    Mrs1885 likes this.